I haven't written much for a while as that nasty word 'work' got in the way! We pottered about around Brewood and Wheaton Aston for a couple of days before I had to go to Birmingham for the day, an adventure in itself, a bus to Wolverhampton and then train to New Street. Martin accommpanied me to Wolverhampton where he breakfasted at the Wolves supporters club cafe and visited St Peter's church on St Peters' day, finding packed with the staff and pulips of St Peter's school. At the art gallery there was a celebration of the Black Country origins of heavy metal music featuring interviews and some stunning pencil drawings of working in a steel works, as some of the artists did. The work trip went off without a hitch, and being very cool I stepped aboard in my business clothes as Hale and Hearty passed under the bridge and off we went into the country. Martin had also had a lovely evening with the Brewood bellringers practising and enjoying the excellent ale at The Swan.
We travelled up to Market Drayton over two days, with an overnight stop out in the country, where we woke to a perfect misty morning with still water and clear reflections. Arranged more library internet support and car hire and so for a few days we were both back to the land of work. I went to Hampshire and Martin worked 'from home'. I was kindly taken in by dear generous friends, as I had completely failed to organise accommodation for myself and Martin got to enjoy the delights of Market Drayton, a rather lovely old town with a big market that reminded him of Lymington.
I got back on thursday evening and we made a final trip to drop off the car - a relief to return it undamaged, but it gave very good service and it took me no longer to get to Hampshire from the Midlands than from Devon. We also visited Market Drayton's charming little museum, full of interesting objects that visitors can handle and discuss. Martin had vittled up, emptied the loo and filled up with water, so all ready for the next voyage!
Off we set, in rain as ever, it has an uncanny way of starting just as we cast off, and cruised gently to Audlem, through 16 locks and a total distance of 6 miles. Audlem is a delightful little place, with a large and lovely sandstone church. It was here that we met the most interesting and charming Edward Wilkins, an ordinary chap who served on HMS Colombine, a Corvette build in Bristol, during WW2 and has written a book about his experiences.
And so on to Nantwich, where we managed to do laundry and attend St Mary's Church today, a lovely service and again a most welcoming place. We found a wonderful eaterie, 'The Chrshire Cat', on the road to town from the canal and had one of the best Sunday lunches we have ever had. What made is so good? Tender and perfectly cooked meat, lovely fresh vegetables, all seasoned exactly right, crisp Yorkshire, apple fritters with the pork and the most sublime brownie ever tasted. If you are ever in Nantwich they do a great Sunday menu. Now need to sit a while, as carrying a big tummy back to the boat has tired me out!